Signatory parties of 16-pt deal ready to replace 'secularism' with 'religious freedom'

KATHMANDU: Signatory parties of the 16-point agreement have expressed their readiness to replace the term 'secularism' with 'religious freedom' in the new constitution.

Speaking at an interaction organised at the Reporters' Club in the Capital on Friday, Nepali Congress (NC) leader Arjun Narsingh KC said that the draft constitution should be revised on the basis of the suggestions of the general public.

Stating that the suggestions of the general public on the draft constitution should be given high priority, he said that the term 'secularism' should be replaced with 'religious freedom'.

Saying that the provision to control fundamental rights by making law was deplorable, KC opined that the provision to control rights of press in any situation should be removed from the constitution.

Moreover, he said that the constitution should be promulgated by delineating the provinces to address the aspirations of people.

Similarly, CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal clarified that his party will be ready to replace the term 'secularism' with 'religious freedom' if other parties are ready on the same.

"It was not a referendum. It was just a campaign to collect the overall perception of the public," he said, adding, his party will accept it only if all the parties are agreed on the issue.

Rawal,however, said that all the suggestions of the people could not be incorporated in the constitution.

Demanding demarcation of the provinces by the signatory parties of the 16-point pact at the present is nothing but merely a ploy to obstruct the constitution drafting process, he said.

Also speaking on the occasion, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic leader Jitendra Dev said that his party would move ahead by taking the suggestions of the people.

He said that the terms 'religious freedom' and 'can't change religion' should be included in the new constitution by removing the phrase 'secularism'.

As most of the people suggested for constitution with demarcation of the provinces, his party will also stand on the same, Dev stated.

UCPN-Maoist leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi said that the draft constitution would be revised on the basis of suggestions provided by the people.